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Alaska editorial: Not to Politico: Fairbanks isn't 'nowhere'

Posted: August 6, 2012 - 2:48am  |  Updated: August 25, 2012 - 11:07pm

This editorial first appeared in The Journal of Commerce:

The State of Alaska received welcome news at the end of June when Congress agreed on a two-year surface transportation bill that largely preserved annual federal funds for the Alaska Railroad Corp.

Under the Senate version passed in March, the railroad was in danger of losing $30 million of the $36 million annual Federal Transit Administration funding it has received since 2006. The potential loss of funding put everything from hundreds of jobs, passenger service and the ability to repay $137 million in capital improvement bonds at risk.

Well, Rep. Don Young was appointed to the conference committee and he won back nearly all of the funding cut, securing $31 million annually for the Alaska Railroad that will allow the company to continue capital projects, pay its debts and preserve passenger service.

Apparently that didn’t sit too well with those ever-vigilant budget hawks at Politico, a Washington, D.C., news organization that started off as a relatively balanced outfit but is now indistinguishable from the rest of the left-leaning media who run interference for Democrats and President Barack Obama.

In a July 10 piece headlined “Don Young’s Railroad to Nowhere,” Politico described the FTA funds as a “cash gusher” for the railroad and that Young pulled off a “trick” to preserve the money despite the House of Representatives ban on earmarks.

This of course will come as news to the insulated cocoon of D.C. reporters, but Fairbanks isn’t nowhere. Denali National Park isn’t nowhere. Neither are Seward or Anchorage.

It also may come as news to the crack Politico team that contrary to their reporting, the FTA funds are not dedicated to “mass transit” or “commuter” rail.

The authorizing legislation requires an entity to be a “local government authority” — which the Alaska Railroad is — and that it offer “public transportation” — which it does.

And in terms of bang for the buck, the Alaska Railroad delivers by supporting the state supply chain carrying jet fuel to our military bases and international airport, and transporting coal exports that reduce our trade deficit.

The railroad is vital to deploy our military, and while the Politico hacks may scoff at the tourists who ride it, they represent hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors who come to this country to spend far more money than Congress just appropriated.

Meanwhile, these same jokers at Politico reassure us that based on their review of $16 billion in Department of Energy loan guarantees that were part of the 2009 stimulus bill that didn’t stimulate anything but the national debt clock — “it’s too soon to judge the success or failure of most of the 26 projects that received aid.”

That’s some hard-hitting stuff right there.

That information came in an article reporting on Abound Solar, which went bankrupt last month after receiving a $70 million loan guarantee from DOE.

This follows on the collapse of Solyndra, Obama’s poster child for green energy loans — coincidentally owned by Obama bundler George Kaiser — after it received $535 million in DOE loan guarantees.

Then there’s Fisker, which has received $193 million from DOE to build a hybrid sports car. The company has laid off 100 workers around the country in an effort to get more of that sweet, sweet DOE cash because so far it has missed all its sales and development milestones. When Consumer Reports tried to evaluate the Fisker Karma (a deliciously ironic name, no?), the car wouldn’t start.

So while it’s “too soon to judge” a DOE program that blew $800 million tax dollars on just three companies, Politico turns its fire on Young and the Alaska Railroad to make a cheap headline out of easy targets.

Nevermind you could run the Alaska Railroad for 25 years with the amount of money Obama’s DOE has blown on three companies in less than two.

Thanks to Young, the Alaska Railroad will still be here in 25 years. Solyndra won’t be, even though we’ll probably still be paying interest on the debt that funded this and every other “green” fiasco funded by the current administration.

The only thing going nowhere is Politico’s credibility.

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